You may have heard of a little something called online counseling—but you might not know all that much about it. Basically, online counseling is therapy conducted via telephone or video chat. It’s particularly helpful for certain individuals, such as those who have trouble opening up to the counselor in a traditional setting or those who can’t get to the traditional setting. Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Family Wellness Expert Alicia Hyatte explains this further: “Online counseling can lift many barriers to treatment engagement, compliance, and consistency. When clients are unable to attend in-office appointments due to various reasons—such as time constraints, living in remote areas, having limited transportation, being immobilized, or other factors—they can still participate in counseling provided they have internet connection.” But, that’s not to say that online counseling requires no effort at all. To ensure you get the same benefits of counseling in a traditional setting, it’s important you commit yourself to the true mission of bettering yourself through therapy. Take it from these mental health pros who say succeeding in counseling, whether it be in-person or online, requires…
1) Putting in the work: Brooke Williams, licensed professional counselor, says that therapy is hard work—that is, if you’re doing it right. So, first and foremost, you have to make sure you’re ready and willing to put in the necessary work. “Therapy is meant to facilitate change and healing, so you have to be ready to do hard emotional work if you want to see progress,” she says.
2) Looking long and hard within: Another major element in therapy is taking a deep dive within and becoming intimate with oneself. Monica Elden—facilitator, coach, therapist, and corporate trainer—explains what exactly this means: “Intimacy is a key component in any relationship whether with yourself or someone else,” she says. “It’s about developing closeness, rapport, affinity. It’s also about cultivating that for the parts of you that seem hard to love or accept. Intimacy with yourself means learning to accept yourself, to be happy as you are, while at the same time being open to growing. True growth comes from a place of acceptance rather than as a reaction to something that needs to be fixed in yourself.”
3) Having faith in the process: It’s also crucial that you trust the therapeutic process. Because if you don’t believe that it’ll work for you—regardless of the issue at hand—there isn’t much hope for getting better. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Christianne Kernes further explains this notion: “I wish people understood that therapy is not just for people who are diagnosed with a mental illness. The common misconception is that you have to be crazy to see a therapist. This has to change. There is nothing to be ashamed of when you seek help to speak to an expert, just as you seek help for any other medical conditions. There are a lot of reasons why people see a therapist that have nothing to do with disorders. People struggle in life with general issues such as transitions, losses, relational issues, and more. Oftentimes you notice that you are not able to function as you’d like, or as you used to—a sign that you need to talk to somebody.”
4) Remaining patient: In addition, be sure that you’re patient throughout the process, as therapy doesn’t exactly follow the same formula every time. The time and tools it takes to heal vary person to person as explained by Psychotherapist Jeffrey Von Glahn: “Sometimes profound change can occur in two sessions with a deep cry. Sometimes many such cries and many months are necessary. Sometimes the therapist and the client just don’t click. Some clients have been hurt in such a way that they are great at starting out following a plan agreed upon by the client and the therapist, until that process hits a really deep sore spot, and one that the client will not or cannot voluntarily decide to experience and offers all kinds of reasons, excuses really, for why the therapist’s idea isn’t working.”
5) Allowing yourself to heal: And finally, you must give yourself permission to heal and continue on with life: “When thinking about therapy and how to describe the process, the healing and the outcomes in one word… that word would be ‘restorative,’ says Clinical Psychologist Angela Kenzslowe. “I choose this word because with everything therapy is and does, it allows us to be restored or reset to have the best life possible.”